Former addict Conor Harris explains how he first used the drug as a 17-year-old schoolboy

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Psychiatrist and addiction specialist Prof Colin O’Gara says there is “a cocaine epidemic” in Ireland. New figures released last week from the Health Research Board (HRB) show the rapidly growing levels of cocaine use in Ireland – and how it is found in every corner of the country. Cocaine consumption crosses all age demographics, with people presenting for treatment from as young as 15, to 60 year-olds who have only recently begun taking the drug. While the HRB tracks those in treatment, there are countless regular users who do not engage with services – so the true scale of usage is not known.

In this podcast O’Gara, a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCD and consultant psychiatrist and head of addiction services at St John of God Hospital, explains why cocaine use has exploded in recent years and why the health impacts of taking the drug have to be explained to users.

To compound the growing cocaine problem, he fears that if the economy falls into recession there will be a rise in the use of crack cocaine; he is already treating users who he says fall outside the more typical demographic for that dangerous drug.

And former cocaine addict Conor Harris (23) explains how he first used the drug as a 17-year-old schoolboy, was addicted by 18 and sought treatment at the age of 19 following a suicide attempt. Presented by Bernice Harrison. Produced by John Casey and Suzanne Brennan.


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Bernice Harrison

Bernice Harrison

Bernice Harrison is an Irish Times journalist and cohost of In the News podcast